Getty Images

Svitolina beats Kerber, will face Wozniacki in Dubai final

Leave a comment

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Top-seeded Angelique Kerber struggled with a knee injury during a 6-3, 7-6 (3) loss to seventh seed Elina Svitolina in the semifinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday.

Kerber would have reclaimed No. 1 ranking if she won the Dubai title, but that seemed of secondary importance after her loss.

“I’m not thinking about this,” Kerber said. “For me it’s really important to be healthy.”

Kerber was not sure what caused the injury.

“I don’t know what’s with my knee now, but I feel pain a little bit,” the German player said. “At the end, I tried my best. This is how I am.”

Svitolina beat Kerber for the third straight match and advances to play 10th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who earlier reached her second consecutive final of the season with a 6-3, 6-4 semifinal win over Latvian Anastasija Sevastova.

Svitolina’s victory increased her winning streak to 11 matches. The Ukrainian won the Taiwan Open earlier this month for a fifth career title.

Wozniacki, a losing finalist at the Doha tournament last week, is seeking her 26th career title.

“Very happy how I have managed to get through these two weeks, because it’s been very tiring mentally,” she said. “The fact that I have just been staying in there and keep grinding, I’m kind of proud of that.”

The last time she reached back-to-back finals was at the 2014 U.S. Open and Tokyo tournaments, but lost both.

Wozniacki won the Dubai title in 2011 and has reached at least the semifinals in six of the seven years she’s played at the event, compiling a 22-5 record.

“I love playing here,” she said. “To have a finals here again, it just feels good.”

Wozniacki still in frame for return to No. 1

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Caroline Wozniacki had just been beaten by Kim Clijsters in the 2012 Australian Open quarterfinals, causing her to lose her No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour, and she had some fighting words.

“I will get it back eventually, so I’m not worried,” she said. “The media talks to me like I’m finished … the fact is I still have quite a few good years in front of me.”

Fast forward to this year’s Australian Open, where Wozniacki’s win in the third round on Friday leaves her with a chance to regain the No. 1 ranking – six years later.

If so, it would be the longest gap between stints at the top since the WTA’s computer rankings were introduced in 1975. She might take some solace from the fact that the current longest streak between players returning to No. 1 is held by Serena Williams at 5 years, 29 days.

The 27-year-old Wozniacki also faced criticism during her first stay at No. 1 – which included year-end top rankings in 2010 and 2011 – that she’d never won a major, unlike Williams’ current 23. And that hasn’t changed either.

Maybe this year.

On Friday, two days after she came back from a 5-1 deficit and saved two match points in the third set to beat Jana Fett in the second round, she had a 6-4, 6-3 win over Kiki Bertens that wasn’t without late drama, both with closing out the match, and with her criticism of the chair umpire.

Wozniacki had to save four break points while serving for the match but clinched it on her fourth match point.

After coming so close to being knocked out of the tournament, she sounded like a gambler with cash in her pocket.

“Right now, playing with house money,” Wozniacki said in an on-court television interview. “Nothing to lose. I got a second chance. I’m just going to try and take it and see how far I can go.”

Wozniacki wasn’t happy with chair umpire Renaud Lichtenstein. She had complained about a few line calls, and that the court was slippery in several areas.

“I’ve never had this guy before … but I think he did a poor job today,” Wozniacki said. “If the court is wet, I think it’s normal to ask for a towel. I don’t think someone needs to be rude, and I told him so. I think there were some questionable calls, as well.”

Watching from Wozniacki’s support section was former NBA player David Lee. In November, the former New York Knicks forward proposed to her during a holiday on the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora.

“All I’ll say is it was a surprise, it was amazing,” Wozniacki said earlier this week of Lee’s proposal. “Had the best off-season. We had a great time traveling a little bit, exploring some new places. I was really recharged when I finally got back on the court again.”

Perhaps enough to get her back to No. 1.

Roger Federer through to Australian 3rd round

AP Photo
Leave a comment

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Defending champion Roger Federer is through to the Australian Open’s third round after beating Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in a night match at Rod Laver Arena.

Federer maintained his record of always reaching the third round at Melbourne Park, and this is his 19th appearance. Five of his 19 Grand Slam singles titles have been in Australia.

Despite his straight-sets win, Federer was only able to convert three of his 11 break-point chances, and only one of six in the third set.

The 36-year-old Federer will next play French veteran Richard Gasquet. Federer has beaten Gasquet 16 of the 18 times they’ve played.